I woke up bright and early on day two of KCON and demanded that Henry go down to the lobby and score us breakfast muffins since Chooch and I are pathetic children with little-to-no life skills and depend on our burly manservant to keep us alive.
In other words, I didn’t have my makeup on yet.
When we went downstairs to wait for our Lyft, the lobby was bustling with tour groups preparing for a day in NYC, and I felt a twinge of jealousy.
Originally, we were going to skip the convention on the second day and go to NYC instead since we were so close that we could actually see it from Newark and it was TANTALIZING. But then I ended up scoring that fan engagement for Up10tion on the day we registered, and that was scheduled for 11am on Saturday. We considered going after that, but I started to panic about all the unknowns: the traffic; getting engulfed by the dark underbelly of the city, never to resurface; being seduced by the bright lights and losing all track of time; getting stabbed in Central Park — YOU KNOW, ALL THE NORMAL NYC THINGS.
Plus, none of us have ever been to NYC (I’ve only been to JFK and LaGuardia airports, which don’t count) and would a few hours on a Saturday afternoon truly be enough to satiate the naive tourists in us? So we decided that we would come back another time, when we have nothing else to do, and can devote a whole weekend to shuffling around in fanny packs and sun visors.
Alas, our Lyft driver rolled up around 9:45 and Henry started tersely whispering, “Sit in the front. Erin, sit in the front. Please sit in the front.” And then as I slid into the backseat next to Chooch, “Fuck you.”
I guess he felt uncomfortable sitting in the passenger seat next to the young girl driver? Lol.
Chooch and I both preferred Friday’s Lyft driver over this one. Friday’s was super talkative, but Saturday’s was very stiff and quiet. She had vinyl stickers all over her car, begging for a five-star rating. Girl, Jessica Simpson was playing on your radio when we got in the car. No 5 stars for you.
This reminds me: the Lyft driver from KCON day one had on some Top 40 radio station from NYC and the DJs were talking about Charlie Puth, how in his latest song “Attention,” there is a part where his voice cracks a little, and how most pop singers would have been like, “I need to re-record this part” but Charlie was like, “No, keep it. This is real and my emotions caused this” or whatever. I’ve heard that song several times prior to this but never noticed the part they were talking about until they played it and isolated the exact word where his voice kind of turns into a whisper and it gave me actual chills. Now I have much more appreciation for Charlie Puth and have listened to that song a million times since that day because it moves me to tears.
I will always think of riding in the backseat of Lyft Driver Carolina’s car, past the Newark airport and into the industrial section of Newark, every time I hear this song.
The second day of the convention was mostly the same, but with different panels and fan engagements. We hit up all the booths again, filling up on more free samples, and this time we managed to get Henry in on the Drama Fever action. We chose the Goblin background this time but it was dumb with three of us because the whole point is that you’re supposed to wear a red scarf and then stand facing to the right with your arm outstretched so it looks like you’re pointing at the Goblin’s sword BUT WHATEVER IT’S FINE.
Every single person in line in front of us won at the wheel spinning thing so we had a feeling that we were about to kill the streak. Plus, the people remembered my Instagram name and I think they were like, “OH SHIT, CAN’T HAVE A DOUBLE WINNER!” so we lost, UGH. I was hoping to win a Twice fan engagement but WHATEVER IT’S FINE I’LL LIVE.
We should have posted the picture on Chooch’s Instagram instead. I’m so stupid.
Aeound 10:30, I made my way to the area where the fan engagement lines were. Since I was just in the basic no hi-touch audience for this one, I felt much less stress. That is, until the boy in front of me dipped under the yellow queue tape because there was literally no one line so I followed suit AND WHO IS THE ONE WHO GOT YELLED AT? ME! THE SHEEP!
Ugh, that’s the second time I got scolded at one of these damn things! I will try harder to stand up straight and be a perfect Pollyanna rule abider next time! God I felt like such a dick! But then I also had rage because hello THAT GUY DID IT FIRST, yell at him, too. :(
But the next security person I encountered totally made up for it — she was such a character and really made the most of her job of checking our fan engagement tickets and clicking her little people-counter thing by interacting with us, dancing, and just being a damn fool. The girl several people in front of me apparently had a hi-touch card and the security lady was all, “OOOH SHIT GIRL, you in the WRONG LINE! You better get your butt over there so you can touch your cute little Korean boys!” and then she made sure the other security people let the girl into the correct line. It was so nice of her!
I loved that lady. Why couldn’t they all be as nice as her? :(
This time, I was smart and left my purse with Henry so that I didn’t get all held up in that fucking bag-check fuckarow again, although it seemed like they had sorted out the system by Saturday and the lines were moving pretty smoothly.
Similarly to KNK, I didn’t know much about Up10tion but these fan engagements really make it impossible to not fall in love with the groups, regardless of how well you know them. Kevin Woo was the MC for this one and they jokingly asked him to be their 10th member, since one of the guys left, taking them down to a nine-member group and making their name awkward. (Kevin Woo used to be in the kpop group U-Kiss, in case you didn’t know, but now he’s the host of an English kpop show in Seoul called After School Club. Now you know.)
Up10tion said that they were going to debut their new song “Runner” at the show that night, and then one of them sang a quick verse and I knew I was going to like it. Then some older woman in front of me farted, which was already horrible, but another woman was fanning herself with one of the cardboard fans that 7397498274 booths were handing out, and in the process she was essentially volleying the other lady’s fart right into my face at break-neck speeds. It was like fart-concentrate, not having the chance to disperse on its way to my nostrils. I was straight up gagging, you guys. Straight up gagging.
Even with the farts and scoldings for fake line-jumping, the Up10tion fan engagement was worth it. It was similar to KNK’s, in that there was a brief and language-barrier’d Q&A session, and then they also played charades (the audience’s category choice was overwhelmingly “animals” which was not my pick — I was in the minority who wanted them to act out kpop songs, but whatever). Super fucking fun though, especially watching their awkward display of aegyo.
(I’m obsessed with aegyo. I wish Henry more of it.)
Meanwhile, Henry and Chooch were across the street in the other part of the convention that had all of the food and kpop vendors, but more importantly: the large, air-conditioned Amazon Mobile Masters tent. Chooch pretty much camped out in there and it was soooo boring to me. However, while I was in my fan engagement, Chooch got involved in some contest inside. There was an area with a bunch of Amazon Fires set up, and every so many hours there was a new game challenge going on. From 10-12, it was Crossy Roads. Chooch loves that game, and the top 3 high scores won prizes. First places got an Amazon Fire, and Chooch was determined to win. By the time I made my way over there, he had the current high score with 30 minutes left.
He was stalking that area like a cat looking for a mouse. All the Amazon volunteers thought it was hilarious and kept teasing him. “That guy’s coming close to beating your score, you want me to kick him?” one of them jokingly said to Chooch who looked like he was about to chew through his lip.
He was making me nervous with his pacing, so Henry and I went outside to look at all of the things he wouldn’t let me buy because I’m not a 16-year-old with a locker to decorate, UGH. However, I did buy a Twice pin at one of the booths, because they were raffling off a Twice Candybong (that’s what Twice’s light sticks are called, I TEACH YOU SO MUCH!) and in order to enter, all you had to do was purchase one Twice-related item from their booth. I had my eye on the Twice zombie pin anyway, so I gladly bought it. The girl at the booth told me that I just had to put down my contact info on a clipboard after some other girl was finished with it, so I was standing there patiently when some fucking pushy dickhead guy came barreling through the crowd and said, “I WANT TO ENTER TOO” and started PULLING THE CLIPBOARD from the girl while she was still writing, I couldn’t even believe his audacity, maybe because I wasn’t raised to have total disregard for those around me, and it always blows my mind when I witness this kind of ME ME ME I WANT IT NOW behavior. It was the only disheartening moment of all of KCON, fan-wise, which I guess is a good thing. Most people were super chill and not pushy assholes at all.
“You have to buy something from this booth in order to enter,” I said, but he completely ignored me and went right on scribbling his shitty info down.
“He’s going to be the one who wins, too,” I cried to Henry afterward, who asked if I said something to the girl at the booth, but NO I DIDN’T because I’m tired of always being the fucking tattle-tale in life. I didn’t want some pointless confrontation to sully my experience at KCON so I chose to move on with my Twice pin shining brightly on my shorts next to G-Dragon. <3
(Spoiler: I didn’t win the Candybong.)
Back inside the Amazon tent, things were heating up. Chooch made frenemies with some guy who didn’t care about the challenge until he found out what the prizes were, and then he came close to beating Chooch’s score while Chooch was nervously hulking around, wringing his hands and dabbing his brow.
One of the Amazon guys came over and asked, “He yours?” and then started cracking up when I said sighed. Chooch won over all the Amazon people in there and I feel like they were would have been just as sad as Chooch if he lost.
Butttttt, he doesn’t lose. Because he’s freaking Good Luck Chooch. So then we had to stick around while the brat was presented with his Fire and got his picture taken in the Winner’s Chair.
“I’m glad I came in first and not second because that prize was an Echo, and I already won one of those yesterday,” Chooch said with a wave of his hand, like the Echo was quite literally yesterday’s news. I can’t believe this kid and his luck.
I drowned my bitterness in a piping hot cup of ttkeokbokki after that and all was right in the world again.
Then after lunch, we were walking past the convention stage and the I Love K-Food people were there, tossing some of their products out into the crowd. OF COURSE Chooch’s grubby hand shot up and snatched the very last thing of ramen that was chucked.
This video is actually from the first day, I think, but I can’t stress enough how much fun I had watching people dance. The dancing is really what drew me into kpop in the first place, because the exercise routines I do adapt a lot of moves from the music videos and incorporate it into the aerobics. I have very little rhythm and fail miserably anytime I try to learn legit choreography, but this method works for me. I wish I could do the official dances though! I’ll keep trying and hoping that it clicks.
After milling about for another hour or so, we decided to leave so that Chooch and I wouldn’t be totally drained at the concert later, like we had been the night before. That’s a lot of time under the sun. We wanted to get ice cream, anyway, and I can’t believe that there were no stands at KCON serving patbingsoo, or any type of bingsoo for that matter! What a disservice to the KCON patrons!
This was the line for one of the fan engagements as we were leaving.
We took a Lyft back to the hotel and grabbed our car. I found a place on my least favorite app, Yelp, called Nasto’s. It was supposed to be a classic establishment in Newark but I was more interested in going because of the name.
It turned out to be a good choice because they had a thing I’ve never heard of called tartufo – I had the peanut butter version and it was AMAZING. Like a large ice cream version of a buckeye.
Are buckeyes regional? I don’t know, but my Grandma Kelly used to make them all the time when I was a kid and they were the best buckeyes I’ve ever had. Literally just a small nug of PB coated with glorious chocolate. The best. So this was like an inflated one of those, with a delicious mound of vanilla ice cream underneath that cap of chocolate, with ribbons of sweet-ass peanut butter swirling through it like candied veins. Ugh, it was so good that Chooch immediately ordered one too after just seeing mine.
Henry got a scoop of cannoli and something else that he can’t remember because he’s lame. I feel like we were not getting along around this time for some reason and it probably had nothing to do with the fact that I needed a nap.
I consulted Roadside America for some adventure ideas but almost everything was in NYC. I did find some type of cemetery that had like, tunnels in it or something, that wasn’t too far away. Henry was so angry because we ended up having to go over some toll bridge, and then I started flipping out because I looked to the right and the Statue of Liberty was RIGHT THERE, like very close, and I am seriously terrified of the Statue of Liberty, to the point where I’m pretty certain I will never be able to tour it like a true American and that’s something that I will have to carry with me on my own, OK, so don’t try to reason with me!
But then NYC was right there too, a stone’s throw away, and Chooch was freaking out because he wanted to go so badly and I did too (mostly because there are 58 different ice cream places over there on my list) but there was just no way we could swing it. And then the cemetery we were looking for turned out to be super small with no parking and some type of festival/farmers market was happening so we were like FUCK THIS and went back to the hotel to get some rest before the concert, and by “get some rest,” I mean that Chooch and I went to the fitness room and proceeded to sweat our asses off like maniacs training for the Giddy Olympics while Henry went to Subway to get us dinner.
Only one more part left to go of the KCON saga. OMG, can you manage to trudge through to the end?!